How Does Meditation Affect the Brain

meditations affect on the brainMeditation is a relaxation method that many use today for managing stress, however, new research is showing that there may be many more benefits of meditating. Recent studies are showing that it makes the brain stronger and allows a person to process thoughts and feelings. But what kind of meditation works best for this?

A recent study by a team of researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the University of Oslo and the University of Sydney learned that the brain works differently during various forms of meditation. They divided meditation techniques into two groups, Concentrative (focusing on breathing or on specific thoughts while suppressing other thoughts) and Nondirective (effortlessly focusing on breathing or meditative sound, and allowing the mind to wander).

The results were unexpected…

One of the researchers, physician Jian Xu said, “I was surprised that the activity of the brain was greatest when the person’s thoughts wandered freely on their own, rather than when the brain worked to be more strongly focused. When the subjects stopped doing a specific task and were not really doing anything special, there was an increase in activity in the area of the brain where we process thoughts and feelings. It is described as a kind of resting network. And it was this area that was most active during nondirective meditation.

Another researcher, Svend Davanger, a neuroscientist at the University of Oslo, commented, “The study indicates that nondirective meditation allows for more room to process memories and emotions than during concentrated meditation.”

Previous studies conducted by researchers at UCLA showed that years of meditating thickens the brain in a healthy way and strengthens the connections between brain cells. A more recent study found that the more years a person meditates the brain’s cortex “folds”(gyrification), which may allow the brain to process information faster.

There are so many forms of meditation practiced by millions of people. Would you like to explore the benefits? A mental health professional can assist you or see if you would also benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

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